A History Of Precious Metals

Precious metals have an extensive history, as different cultures have used them from early discovery. Precious metals are mostly naturally occurring and, therefore, mined. Several precious metals include gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium. Mainly precious metals’ purpose is in jewelry, industrial processes, and as a sign of wealth. There’s always companies like National Coin & Bullion Reserve that can help you with an investment.


Gold was discovered by different groups, and everyone who found it was impressed by the metal for its brilliance, natural beauty, and malleability. In California, it was found by James W. Marshall on January 24, 1848, in Sutter Creek, California. He saw something shiny and got interested. The name gold comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Geolo meaning yellow. Gold is easy to work with due to its pure state and permanence since it doesn’t rust.

In the early years, gold’s association was with the gods, rulers, and wealth in many cultures. This tradition has spread throughout ancient and modern civilizations. In the quest for gold, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Indians, Hittites, and Chinese prisoners of war went to work in gold mines. In 700 B.C, gold was used as money due to its ease of melting, forming, and measuring, like in Ancient Greece. Gold was the first monetary medium of exchange but has extensively developed over time. It shaped the world’s economies to expand and prosper.

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Antonio de Ulloa, a Spanish mariner in Colombia, in 1736 discovered platinum. He wrote the metal’s description that made many scientists interested by its resistance to corrosion and inability to melt. Platinum is the most expensive, precious, and rarest metal. Platinum is a recent discovery compared to gold and silver, that have been around for thousands of years. In the earlier days, it was thought to be a mixture of gold and silver, but in 2000-2008 it experienced a significant spike and became the most expensive metal.

The famous jewelers Cartier and sons in the late 1800s began to use platinum as jewelry. They mastered the metal and were able to bend it. It created high demand among royals around the world. After its discovery in 1800 in Columbia, the metal was later discovered in different countries, including the Ural Mountains in Russia, Canada, and South Africa. South Africa has become the biggest manufacturer of platinum, with 75 percent of the world’s platinum.

Scientists have discovered different uses for platinum, including catalytic converters in dental work, computers, vehicle engines, pacemakers, and chemotherapy. Platinum was first used as currency in Russia in late 1820, and since then, it has been issued as platinum currency by famous mints around the world. Despite platinum not having a historical monetary precedent, platinum coins have become more marketable rather than practical financial use.


The history of silver is long, and its first evidence was in Turkey and Greece in 3000 B.C. The ancient people learned how to refine silver through the cupellation process, where they heated the silver ore and blew air over it. Silver is a shiny whitish metal that is resistant to corrosion and malleable. Silver’s beauty and beautiful nature have made people fascinated about the metal and therefore used for jewelry.

Over time silver has been used for different purposes, including the fabrication of electronics. It has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity than any other metal. Hence, used in making electrical switches, superconductors circuit boards, and electroplating. Silver is used in making textiles and clothing, musical instruments, and solar panels. It is used in producing chemicals, as a protective coating, and as an embalming agent. Silver has medical purposes because of its antimicrobial properties. It kills bacteria affecting respiration as it absorbs oxygen. In hospitals, it coats surfaces and medical equipment to protect against the spread of pathogens, hence used a lot in dentistry for dental tools and cavity fillings.

Silver became a monetary transaction method after gold, and its economic value has appreciated over time. The oldest coin having been minted in Turkey 2,700 years ago. It helped advance the world’s civilization by connecting the East and West through trade. During the Middle Ages, Europeans used silver to buy Chinese goods since it was scarce in China. The Spanish later discovered silver in Mexico and Peru and established a route across the Pacific. Through its transportation, it accelerated trade through the Mediterranean region.

Platinum, gold, and silver are the most famous precious and traded metals. Gold and silver, having been discovered first and later platinum. They have a vast number of uses, as discussed, their worth appreciating over time due to their scarcity. Palladium and rhodium are the most expensive precious metals in the world.

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